Scandal in Bohemia
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'Cooee' is a distinctly Australian cry, and one which is used
between Australians. There is a strong presumption that the
person whom McCarthy expected to meet him at Boscombe Pool was
someone who had been in Australia."
"What of the rat, then?"
Sherlock Holmes took a folded paper from his pocket and flattened
it out on the table. "This is a map of the Colony of Victoria,"
he said. "I wired to Bristol for it last night." He put his hand
over part of the map. "What do you read?"
"ARAT," I read.
"And now?" He raised his hand.
"Quite so. That was the word the man uttered, and of which his
son only caught the last two syllables. He was trying to utter
the name of his murderer. So and so, of Ballarat."
"It is wonderful!" I exclaimed.
"It is obvious. And now, you see, I had narrowed the field down
considerably. The possession of a gray garment was a third point
which, granting the son's statement to be correct, was a
certainty. We have come now out of mere vagueness to the definite
conception of an Australian from Ballarat with a gray cloak."
"And one who was at home in the district, for the pool can only
be approached by the farm or by the estate, where strangers could
"Then comes our expedition of to-day. By an examination of the
ground I gained the trifling details which I gave to that
imbecile Lestrade, as to the personality of the criminal."
"But how did you gain them?"
"You know my method. It is founded upon the observation of
"His height I know that you might roughly judge from the length
of his stride. His boots, too, might be told from their traces."
"Yes, they were peculiar boots."
"But his lameness?"
"The impression of his right foot was always less distinct than
his left. He put less weight upon it. Why? Because he limped--he
"But his left-handedness."
"You were yourself struck by the nature of the injury as recorded
by the surgeon at the inquest. The blow was struck from
immediately behind, and yet was upon the left side. Now, how can
that be unless it were by a left-handed man? He had stood behind
that tree during the interview between the father and son. He had
even smoked there. I found the ash of a cigar, which my special
knowledge of tobacco ashes enables me to pronounce as an Indian
cigar. I have, as you know, devoted some attention to this, and
written a little monograph on the ashes of 140 different
varieties of pipe, cigar, and cigarette tobacco. Having found the
ash, I then looked round and discovered the stump among the moss
where he had tossed it. It was an Indian cigar, of the variety
which are rolled in Rotterdam."
"And the cigar-holder?"
"I could see that the end had not been in his mouth. Therefore he
used a holder. The tip had been cut off, not bitten off, but the
cut was not a clean one, so I deduced a blunt pen-knife."
"Holmes," I said, "you have drawn a net round this man from which
he cannot escape, and you have saved an innocent human life as
truly as if you had cut the cord which was hanging him. I see the
direction in which all this points. The culprit is--"
"Mr. John Turner," cried the hotel waiter, opening the door of
our sitting-room, and ushering in a visitor.
The man who entered was a strange and impressive figure. His
slow, limping step and bowed shoulders gave the appearance of
decrepitude, and yet his hard, deep-lined, craggy features, and
his enormous limbs showed that he was possessed of unusual
strength of body and of character. His tangled beard, grizzled
hair, and outstanding, drooping eyebrows combined to give an air
of dignity and power to his appearance, but his face was of an
ashen white, while his lips and the corners of his nostrils were
tinged with a shade of blue. It was clear to me at a glance that
he was in the grip of some deadly and chronic disease.
"Pray sit down on the sofa," said Holmes gently. "You had my
"Yes, the lodge-keeper brought it up. You said that you wished to
see me here to avoid scandal."
"I thought people would talk if I went to the Hall."
"And why did you wish to see me?" He looked across at my
companion with despair in his weary eyes, as though his question
was already answered.
"Yes," said Holmes, answering the look rather than the words. "It
is so. I know all about McCarthy."
The old man sank his face in his hands. "God help me!" he cried.
"But I would not have let the young man come to harm. I give you
my word that I would have spoken out if it went against him at
"I am glad to hear you say so," said Holmes gravely.
"I would have spoken now had it not been for my dear girl. It
would break her heart--it will break her heart when she hears
that I am arrested."
"It may not come to that," said Holmes.
"I am no official agent. I understand that it was your daughter
who required my presence here, and I am acting in her interests.
Young McCarthy must be got off, however."
"I am a dying man," said old Turner. "I have had diabetes for
years. My doctor says it is a question whether I shall live a
month. Yet I would rather die under my own roof than in a jail."
Holmes rose and sat down at the table with his pen in his hand
and a bundle of paper before him. "Just tell us the truth," he
said. "I shall jot down the facts. You will sign it, and Watson
here can witness it. Then I could produce your confession at the
last extremity to save young McCarthy. I promise you that I shall
not use it unless it is absolutely needed."
"It's as well," said the old man; "it's a question whether I
shall live to the Assizes, so it matters little to me, but I
should wish to spare Alice the shock. And now I will make the
thing clear to you; it has been a long time in the acting, but
will not take me long to tell.
"You didn't know this dead man, McCarthy. He was a devil
incarnate. I tell you that. God keep you out of the clutches of
such a man as he. His grip has been upon me these twenty years,
and he has blasted my life. I'll tell you first how I came to be
in his power.
"It was in the early '60's at the diggings. I was a young chap
then, hot-blooded and reckless, ready to turn my hand at
anything; I got among bad companions, took to drink, had no luck
with my claim, took to the bush, and in a word became what you
would call over here a highway robber. There were six of us, and
we had a wild, free life of it, sticking up a station from time
to time, or stopping the wagons on the road to the diggings.
Black Jack of Ballarat was the name I went under, and our party
is still remembered in the colony as the Ballarat Gang.
"One day a gold convoy came down from Ballarat to Melbourne, and
we lay in wait for it and attacked it. There were six troopers
and six of us, so it was a close thing, but we emptied four of
their saddles at the first volley. Three of our boys were killed,
however, before we got the swag. I put my pistol to the head of
the wagon-driver, who was this very man McCarthy. I wish to the
Lord that I had shot him then, but I spared him, though I saw his
wicked little eyes fixed on my face, as though to remember every
feature. We got away with the gold, became wealthy men, and made
our way over to England without being suspected. There I parted
from my old pals and determined to settle down to a quiet and
respectable life. I bought this estate, which chanced to be in
the market, and I set myself to do a little good with my money,
to make up for the way in which I had earned it. I married, too,
and though my wife died young she left me my dear little Alice.
Even when she was just a baby her wee hand seemed to lead me down
the right path as nothing else had ever done. In a word, I turned
over a new leaf and did my best to make up for the past. All was
going well when McCarthy laid hls grip upon me.
"I had gone up to town about an investment, and I met him in
Regent Street with hardly a coat to his back or a boot to his
"'Here we are, Jack,' says he, touching me on the arm; 'we'll be
as good as a family to you. There's two of us, me and my son, and
you can have the keeping of us. If you don't--it's a fine,
law-abiding country is England, and there's always a policeman
"Well, down they came to the west country, there was no shaking
them off, and there they have lived rent free on my best land
ever since. There was no rest for me, no peace, no forgetfulness;
turn where I would, there was his cunning, grinning face at my